Nearly 60 Red Deer Optimist Clubs Reading Schools graduates were all smiles at Red Deer College on Friday. Graduates (left to right) Cieanna Hood, Mia Ewaskow, Jayda Lee and Jaden Tang with help from program co-ordinator Elvy Goring addressed about 200 friends and relatives gathered for the graduation ceremony.                                Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Nearly 60 Red Deer Optimist Clubs Reading Schools graduates were all smiles at Red Deer College on Friday. Graduates (left to right) Cieanna Hood, Mia Ewaskow, Jayda Lee and Jaden Tang with help from program co-ordinator Elvy Goring addressed about 200 friends and relatives gathered for the graduation ceremony. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Reading College students graduate with smiles

Red Deer Optimist Clubs Reading College helps Grade 2 students with their reading and writing skills

If youthful enthusiasm is a gauge of success then Reading College graduates get top marks.

The reading and writing program aimed at Grade 2 students who are struggling to keep up graduated nearly 60 students on Friday at Red Deer College’s Cenovus Learning Commons as about 200 proud parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other relatives looked on.

It is the seventh year for the program, which injects large amounts of fun and interesting approaches to learning into the 20-day session that’s unique in Alberta.

“It was awesome,” said new graduate Titan Kozak, sporting a green mortarboard and clutching his diploma. “We got to learn how to read better and how to write better. It was just really fun.”

Mom Belinda Kozak also chose “amazing” to describe the program.

“He was excited to get up every single morning, raring to go,” she said, adding she had nothing but good things to say about Reading College.

The program was started by the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, which went out into the community and solicited donations. This year, more than $80,000 was raised in the community, led by Central Alberta Optimist Clubs, and more help came through in-kind donations, including help from Red Deer College, where the program was located.

Foundation executive director Bruce Buruma said one of the reasons the program is so successful is its philosophy to give students “the best summer ever.

“It’s fun. They have so many different activities. We look at a different approach to reading and writing and word skills.

“Kids want to be engaged. They want to be excited. These are Grade 2s and they’re sponges. They really, really do what to learn.”

The students Grade 3 teachers report that Reading College graduates have made huge progress at what is a critical time for learning.

“In those early years, you’re learning to read. But after that, you’re reading to learn and you have to have those foundation skills.”

An important predictor of whether a student will graduate high school is whether they are reading at grade level in Grade 3, he said.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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